Godha, not entirely Andal
Digression diluted the flavour of Jothi Raghavan's dance presentation.
Jothi Raghavan PHOTO: R. RAGU.
Jothi Raghavan's solo presentation `Godha' based on the hymns of Andal's paasurams actually turned out to be a misnomer.
It was the selection of paasurams that caused the ambiguity, and for those who expected a full-fledged treatise on Andal, there was a long wait until the second half of the recital.
`Godha' commenced promisingly enough with Godha Stuthi and Periazhwar's `Pallandu Pallandu.' The saint-composer finds a beautiful girl baby in his garden whom he names Kothai. At this point, the hitherto-smooth narrative suddenly switched gears to portray Krishna's childhood from the Pillai Tamizh literature. Though this digression was portrayed with feeling, it complicated the storyline and took away attention from the protagonist.
The latter half of `Godha' contained an enjoyable portrayal of Andal with paasurams from the Nachiyar Thirumozhi and Tiruppavai. Endearing verses like `Painkili vannan' composed in Vasantha ragam, `Karpuram narumo' in Behag and `Vanidai vazhum' in Subha Pantuvarali evoked images of a very human, young girl, yearning to be with Lord Krishna.
The concluding `Varanamayiram' detailed Andal's dream wedding and her ultimate merging with Lord Ranganatha that Jothi handled with the same dignity and restraint seen throughout.
Jothi has a maturity that comes from a long association with the performing arts. Besides dancing, she also teaches in Massachusetts. One can sense her involvement and commitment by her detailed research and the ease with which she handled the dramatisations. It was a pity though that the two-hour presentation did not have enough time to devote to Andal exclusively.
The music composed by Rajkumar Bharathi and sung with bhava by Trivandrum Krishnakumar and Bama Visweswaran, provided the dancer with a melodious springboard to take off from.
The path to perfection is a long and arduous one and J. Smruthi, disciple of Sudharani Raghupathy, must have realised this by now. She rose to the challenge of a demanding repertoire with a well-rehearsed effort, a milestone perhaps in her journey towards excellence.
Smruthi is a graceful dancer with nimble movements and a reservoir of energy to back her up. She has an intuitive sense of time as well, that enhances the effectiveness of the rhythmic segments. However, there is a lot she can improve on in terms of the araimandi stance, geometry of arm movements, elbow positions and stiffness of the torso.
The treatment of the Ponniah Pillai ragamalika varnam in Rupaka talam, `Swami Ninne Korinaanura' had a distinct bias towards nritta. The brisk teermanams served up back to back were punctuated with short expressive passages portraying the nayika's yearning for Lord Brihadeeshwara, and both received the dignity they deserved. With experience, Smruthi will lose any residual awkwardness that cropped up unawares.
Of the dancer's expressional endeavors, Ambujam Krishna's padam, `Chinna China Padam' in Kapi ragam had more effervescence, while the javali, `Geliyai Ponadhadi' showcased the dancer's depth and comprehension.
The skilful orchestra supporting Smruthi consisted of Nandini Anand (vocal), Priya Murle (nattuvangam), Vijayaraghavan (violin) and Shakthivel (mridangam).
While the melody was enjoyable and the timekeeping accurate, voice modulation by the nattuvanar might help the rasika relish the teermanams better.
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